I recently fell madly in love with someone. She was broken. I knew this and loved her anyway. I couldn’t help myself. We had a good run and fought to stay together. Ultimately, her brokenness caught up to us and reared its ugly head enough that we had to finally say “goodbye.”
Was it her fault for loving me when she knew she was broken? Yes. Was it my fault for loving her when I knew she was broken? Yes.
Neither one of us could help ourselves. In the moment, we had so much love to give to one another, we ran it into the ground. We were smitten, swept away, bitten by the love bug, our hearts swelled as the summer sang along. Things were dysfunctional yet filled with enough love to fill a lifetime. Neither one of us could ever muster up the strength to say goodbye.
You can only deny the truth for so long.
When we met she was months out of a broken engagement. She was just “checking things out.” She was even thinking about going back to him. And then she met me. We fell head over heels like teenage possums. And the rest was something straight out of the movies. Man, it was a love story.
I write about relationships. I understand everything that’s happening as it’s happening. But my problem is acting on my intuition. I’m a romantic. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m usually governed by my emotions. When I love, I really love. While my rational mind might be inherently aware of the dysfunction, my heart will ignore those rational thoughts—the truth of the matter—because it has so much love to give to this person. My heart has to shove all the rational thoughts to the curb to shut it up and allow the heart to do what it wants—love without a care in the world.
Even when it might not be the right thing to do, the heart is always the last to walk away.
My problem is not mine alone. Anyone who’s a hopeless romantic—who is an emotional and passionate lover, who is hugely sentimental and believes in big and special love and finding “the one”—will run into this problem at times in romantic relationships. They have so much love to give and they have a hard time listening to rational thoughts when they become this deeply consumed by strong emotions. Staying too long and refusing to ignore warning signs because they just don’t have the strength to say goodbye to something they know they aren’t meant to hold onto…at least not right now.
We can’t help whom we love and when we love them, right?
Should you love someone who is broken?
There are people sent to us in our life for distinct reasons, all of them uniquely different than the next. The heart pulls us in directions like a magnetic force. Sometimes, this force can be a rocky pull, packed with hard lessons.
The strongest relationships happen when two whole people meet and create even better versions of those two super full, complete people. When someone who is broken loves, sometimes that love can be used to try and fill the space where that brokenness lives — it comes from a place of dire self-preservation and need rather than want. They use that person’s love for a self-fulfilling reason, as a bandage to try and avoid dealing with this brokenness that ruminates below the surface.
While they might be able to love for a while, eventually the weight of their brokenness will pull them to the ground, screaming at them to get out and deal with their shit.
A person’s brokenness can live in a variety of ways. It could be trust issues from a former lover who cheated on them, a toxic and destructive way in which they process emotions, addiction issues, anger issues, someone who is inherently negative and pessimistic, someone who doesn’t know how to show emotion to those who they care about because of emotionally oppressive habits built in youth, someone who doesn’t know how to be alone and has always leaned on romantic partners to take care of them in a way that’s not healthy, or simply, someone who is lost and has no idea who they are and what they want out of life.
Situations such as these are all tough to find answers to when you’re knee deep with the emotional responsibility of a committed, romantic relationship. Sure your partner can be there for you, can understand what you’re going through, but you can’t truly love someone until you love yourself. Most broken people still have work to do before they can love someone in a healthy way.
Sure, broken people can team up with secure, whole people to try and mend their wounds enough to get by. But true healing, true empowerment for this broken person comes from facing their brokenness head on. And for someone who is broken, who has potentially leaned on romantic relationships to help fill the empty space where their brokenness often resides, slowly rotting away, the prospect of facing their demons can be a daunting, luminous mountain that makes Mordor seem like a bunny hill full of sunshine.
If you’re a complete person and you try to love a broken person, it’s going to be easy for you to get frustrated that you aren’t being loved in the way you want to be loved. You will feel like you’re constantly having to take care of someone in a relationship, rather than being one half of an even partnership. It’s not the person’s fault; they simply do not have the capacity to love in the way someone needs to be loved. While they probably have a great heart, and have the best intentions, it’s just they can’t behave and act on those intentions in a way that gives justice to them. It’s this internal whirlwind — they love you and want to be with you, but they just don’t know how right now, at least not in the way they know is going to make you 100% happy.
A broken person dating a whole person can oftentimes lead to major turmoil, toxicity, and dysfunction. It can be very unsettling for the whole person to love the broken person because it’s so unsettling to love someone who is so unsettled in themselves. The broken person has issues they’re dealing with that they want the whole person to understand, and while the whole person tries damn well hard to understand and see things from their point of view, eventually they realize that can’t completely ignore all their own needs and wants in a relationship, just because they love this person that much.
Eventually they face the cold, hard truth that by loving this person they’re actually doing them a disservice, because they’re distracting them from the most important test and journey that lies before them, one where they must learn to stand upright without holding onto someone else’s hand for balance.
Which is going to allow them to become whole and eventually love someone to their maximum capacity. Whether all that love is going to be with you or someone else down the road, it’s what you have to do. It’s the soul’s quest. You can’t get in the way of that quest. It’s greater than you.
In my case, her brokenness coming to a state of complete implosion was met with my anger, hate, and bitterness on my end…at first. But eventually I knew I had to rise above my own pain to understand that this is what her heart and soul needed. The end was not representative of her heart falling out of love, but her heart needing to heal and grow in the ways it required to be able to give to someone, one day, in the way that it’s capable of.
So this is my advice:
To the broken person who so desperately wants to love someone but knows they just aren’t ready to love them. Speak to this person from your heart. Tell them everything you’re dealing with, the best you can, and assure them that it’s nothing personal. Tell them, that while you love them, you know that you can’t give them what they deserve right now. Tell them you’re sorry for any pain you caused them, but you’re genuinely torn between trying to love them while you’re broken and self-sacrificing essential self-growth, or committing everything you have to yourself and healing the areas you’re broken and taking the chance of losing someone you really care about, forever.
Meet with them in person. Speak from the heart. Make sure they understand. Make sure they know how much you love them and that this decision is because of something greater than just the two of you. If this person loves you as much as they say they do, they will understand. They will let you go, not out of anger, but out of love.
And to the whole person who has been struggling to love someone who is broken and still has essential soul lessons to learn before they can hand over their heart to someone. I know you’re going through hell. I know you’re heartbroken. I know you’re angry. I know you think you hate the shit out of this person right now. But please don’t. You don’t hate this person. You’re just angry at them for loving you and then suddenly realizing they couldn’t anymore. Understand that anger is just early on-set pain. See past your anger, and understand that if you speak from anger you will regret it. And try to look past your own pain, because whatever pain they’re going through right now is worse than whatever heartbreak you’re dealing with. Their heart was broken before they ever even met you. They have to let go of someone they are in love with and care about deeply, because the pain they feel inside themselves has become so strong that they need to be alone to tend to it.
Tell them you understand. Assure them you don’t hate them. Tell them how much you love them and how grateful you are to have met them. Make sure they know you will be there for them if they ever need you. Speak every word out of love. And silence your own pain. When they’re gone you can make it about your pain, but for now it’s not about you. And then let them walk away. Scream. Cry. Shout. Be sad. But everything you feel, feel out of love for this person and the journey they need to go on. Remember: it’s the soul’s quest. You can’t fight against it.
But if you’re someone who’s put in the work to figure yourself out. If you’re someone who has been forced to face the areas where you’re weak and broken and learned to work through them, you deserve someone who has done the same. So whether that’s with this person later on in life, or someone else entirely, if you’re whole, you deserve another whole. And this person understands that, which is why they’ve walked away.
The most important thing to remember is to put love and good vibes out into the atmosphere. Don’t be impulsive, and emotionally reactive, and burn bridges. Who knows? Maybe it’s a case of the right person at the wrong time, or maybe it’s simply the first act in one epic love story. Only time will tell what happens next in either of your journeys, whether those are walking away in polar opposite directions now or they will intersect again down the road. That’s up to God to decide now.
But if you truly love them, I mean, truly love them, you will be able to love them with their best interest at heart, and right now, that’s setting them free with a smile, a tear, and allowing them to finally find strength by facing the world all on their own.
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